A US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit charges a metallurgical manufacturer and supplier with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act by routinely assigning female manufacturing employees to lower-paying jobs. A separate EEOC lawsuit alleges a manufacturer and its staffing agency ignored sexually hostile work environment complaints and retaliated against women who complained.
LeachGarner Inc., a metallurgical manufacturer and supplier, violated federal law when it discriminated against a class of female employees by segregating its manufacturing workforce by sex and paying them less than male production workers at its facility in Attleboro, Massachusetts, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit filed May 9.
The lawsuit alleges that since at least January 2017, LeachGarner routinely assigned female manufacturing employees to lower-paying jobs. The manufacturing positions held nearly exclusively by men paid significantly more than those held by women, even though the male-dominated positions required no prior experience and their occupants performed similar work. The few women who were allowed to work alongside men were paid less regardless of their tenure, according to the EEOC.
In communications with staffing providers, LeachGarner routinely expressed a preference for male workers — using direct or coded language — to fill its higher-paying manufacturing positions, the EEOC said. It seeks back pay and compensatory, liquidated and punitive damages for the affected employees, and injunctive relief to remedy and prevent future sex-based discrimination in the workplace.
“In traditionally male-dominated fields such as manufacturing, it is critical that employers understand the equal pay laws and value the contributions of women workers by paying people of both sexes performing similar jobs the same pay, as required by law,” said EEOC New York Acting District Director Timothy Riera.
The EEOC filed suit in US District Court for Massachusetts after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case is Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. LeachGarner d/b/a LeachGarner, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, No. 23-cv-11014.
Mueller Co. and IH Services
Delaware-based Mueller Co. LLC and its staffing provider, South Carolina-based IH Services Inc., violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting female IH Services employees to a hostile work environment based on sex and retaliating against them when they complained, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit filed on May 1.
According to the EEOC’s complaint, from at least May 2018 until late August 2020, IH Services assigned female employees to provide cleaning services at Mueller’s Albertville, Alabama fire hydrant manufacturing plant where several of Mueller’s male employees subjected at least three female IH Services employees to unwanted sexual touching and sexual comments.
Other allegations include Mueller male employees soliciting the female cleaning crew for sex, exposing their genitals and attempting to rape one of the female employees.
The EEOC alleged that at least three females complained to multiple IH Services and Mueller managers, but both employers failed to take appropriate action to stop the harassment. Instead, IH Services retaliated against them by reducing their hours, transferring them to other undesirable shifts and suspending or firing them.
“Title VII requires employers to provide a workplace free from severe or pervasive sexual harassment, even when the harassers are not its own employees,” said EEOC Birmingham District Director Bradley Anderson. “Likewise, Title VII requires employers to protect contract workers assigned to its workplace from harassment by its own employees.”
The EEOC filed in US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama after its Birmingham District office completed an investigation and first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary damages for the victims, including compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief against the companies to prevent such unlawful conduct in the future.
The lawsuit is EEOC v. Mueller Co. LLC and IH Services Inc., Case No. 4:23-cv-00552-CLM.